Benjamin Franklin

Ken Burns has produced another amazing documentary, this one about humble Uncle Ben.

It can be hard to find a worthwhile topic to write about when you are the Tired Midnight Blogger (What Blogs at Midnight). Today I was feeling much less than inspired, so I did a trick that likely is not as clever as I think it is. Often when I feel “stuck” I look up what is being searched on Google Trends. As often as not I come away with a topic I can feel passionate about. And if not, as often as not I find something to make fun of. So today I found that my good old Uncle Ben was in Google Trends. It warmed my heart to see a Founding Father there. So let’s see what there is to say about this topic.

This is the film that made Ken Burns a household name. It is a nine part series on (wanna take a guess?) the Civil War. It was narrated by the Pulitzer Prize winning David  McCullough, had Morgan Freeman as the voice of Frederick Douglas, as well as country legend Hoyt Axton, Civil War author Shelby Foote, Jeremy Irons, Kurt Vonnegut, and Laurence Fishburne as Wace….what…wrong film….this one was much better….? Never mind.

As my nephew with the Masters in History would point out, neither Ken Burns nor David McCullough are true “historians.” But in my humble opinion, that does not entirely discredit their work. Rather like I’m not going to drastically criticize William Shakespeare for his historical plays because of anachronisms or inexactness in his timelines when after all….we’re talking about f—ing Shakespeare here.

I believe I have only seen a bit of this particular documentary. If memory serves, some few years before I finally left my ex wife, this came on, and I really wanted to watch it. PBS was doing one of their telethons, and she had been watching because of something they were selling Gaither records, and she allowed me to watch maybe twenty or thirty minutes of this. All I really remember was some letters written by soldiers to the wives they had left at home to join the fray.

It was heartbreakingly beautiful. Even my ex couldn’t quite ruin it, though the channel was turned after the letter.

Ken Burns is one of the iconic documentary makers of our day.

So….while I understand why people in general are googling my uncle Ben, perhaps my twelve or so readers are curious why I care.

First of all, I actually am related to him. I joke about him being Uncle Ben, but the relation is obviously quite a bit further removed. I mean, yeah I’m fifty, but come on….

I don’t have the book in front of me, I think my mother has it. But one of my ancestors was a sergeant in the American Revolution, and spent the winter in Valley Forge with the Continental Army. His parents (or maybe grandparents) were Benjamin Franklin’s aunt and uncle. Small world huh?

Here we have an accurate modern artist’s rendering of Benjamin Franklin discovering electricity with a kite. I’ll need to look up Zeus stats in the Legend Lore….I knew Uncle Ben was a badass but I didn’t realize he was that nasty….why couldn’t I have some of those stats…..?

The second reason my heart was warmed by the trend is…I think our nation is falling apart, and maybe….just maybe….if enough citizens learn what America is actually all about, maybe we can get this ship turned around before we hit the ice berg.

I’ve been haunted by the idea of America falling since I saw Red Dawn as a teenager. As a grownup I realize the movie is totally unbelievable. (Although having said that….the war in Ukraine might make me reevaluate how strong I think the Russian military is)…..I no longer believe a squad of teen kids could defeat the Russian army.

But as a kid I romanticized the idea. Fighting for my fallen nation, like the Jewish Zealots in the time of Christ. Winning back our liberty, building back better, with me, of coarse, as some kind of bigwig. Maybe a general.

All foolishness.

Uncle Ben reading a post from The Tired Midnight Blogger What Blogs at Midnight. It’s a little known fact he can read his descendant’s relative’s blog posts across the deeps of time. That’s how he got most of his best ideas like daylight savings…..

If you have some time to kill this weekend, log onto and learn a bit about my Uncle Ben. Tell ’em the Tired Blogger sent ya.

Here is the trailer.
From the Civil War documentary


  1. NorthernOkie says:

    Props for the *Legends and Lore* reference:

    Also the comment about Time Lord Ben reading a bound volume of the Blog — perfection!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Curtiswselby says:

      Thank you! I miss that book! My next post will be about the deconstruction of my conservatism


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